24/06/2018 – The Trinidad Guardian. / Retrofitting works are continuing on the Galleons Passage in Cuba, ahead of its arrival to T&T.
Currently docked at the Damex Shipyard in Santiago de Cuba, the National Infrastructure Development Company Limited (Nidco) confirmed the ongoing works as specified in the Memorandum of Agreement between Nidco and Sealease Limited of Hong Kong (the seller).
Nidco said it was “To better equip the vessel for the nation’s use.”
The ongoing works include sealing the gap between the ramp door and hull of the vessel; fabrication and installation of the framing for the forward canopy on the vehicle deck to protect against sea spray; and installation of additional anchor rings to secure vehicles on the vehicle deck.
Nidco said the works formed part of the contractual responsibility of the seller and that the choice of the dockyard was also that of the seller who would bear all associated costs.
Nidco said “Upon completion, the works shall be surveyed by the Classification Society’s surveyor, Lloyd’s Register, prior to the vessel’s departure from Cuba.”
The vessel is expected to depart Cuba on July 10, and following arrival in Trinidad, the owner’s proposed enhancements will be done on a phased basis while the vessel is in service.
Asked when the vessel was due to arrive in T&T, Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan yesterday said it usually takes approximately four days to sail from Cuba to T&T.
He avoided giving an exact date as to when it was expected to go into operation except to say that people would have to be trained.
However, he does not anticipate that much time would be needed to bring the crew up to speed.
Finance Minister Colm Imbert last week said the Cubans were unable to retrofit the vessel and that the Government had requested it be brought to T&T immediately.
Imbert told the Senate that the Government had taken a decision to “bring the vessel to T&T immediately,” because the seller said although fabrication of one of the canopies had begun, they were having difficulty in getting an airline or shipping company to transport some of the remaining equipment and materials to Cuba.
Imbert said Cuba is still “an embargoed country for many countries.
Cuba accepts shipments from some European states and doesn’t apparently make it very easy for shipments from countries like Australia.”